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Monday, April 30, 2007

I visited Bentley’s Applied Research Group pod on the exhibit hall floor to check out the details of the electronic pen and paper noted in the keynote. The company behind the technology is Anoto (get it?) and it dates back to about 2000. A few companies including Logitech make the pens and there’s been interest from wireless phone/bluetooth handset (think Nokia, Sony) players because, if the pen is bluetooth enabled it can send data via a cell phone!

So, back to the pen and paper. The paper it turns out is pretty ordinary; what’s special is that the printer knows how to draw the background data that “geolocates” where the pen writes. The printer itself need to use carbon in its toner (most due) and be 600 dpi, and further it needs to be “certified” to work with the app. Most likely special drivers we be developed that send it the information it needs to print.

Now, what about that background data? It’s bascially a bunch of dots that seem randomly spaced. They are not; in fact the pattern is unique such that it could cover Europe and Asia. It’s those dots that allow the pen to know not only what sheet its on, but where on that sheet.

The pen has a light and a camera on the tip. The pen knows when to “start paying attention” when you start writing. I spring in the tip acts as a sort of on/off switch. When writing begins the camera captures the dots to know where it is and the pen strokes to know what’s being drawn. These are dumb graphics that might make up words, lines, etc. That information gets stored in the pen and when its docked it can, if linked to an app like ProjectWise, find the right DGN and pop the redlining right on top.

Now, if the pen has bluetooth it can take the info, in real time, send it to a cell phone, on say the users hip and send the information on to a server. In fact, a delivery company in Europe uses the pen and paper, along with a bluetooth phone, to document delivery and receipt in near real time! Another user of the technology is in hospitals where they like a paper trail. Both of these uses, as you might expect, use custom apps built to take advantage of the technology. The paper trail made me wonder if it could be used for electronic voting.

[Disclosure: Bentley covered travel, hotel and meals.]

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/30 at 07:12 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Bentley’s BE 2007 event is going on this week in Los Angeles. Today’s keynotes were from Greg Bentley, Bhupinder Singh, Keith Bentley and Buddy Cleveland. If memory serves these are the same crew that was running the company for the last twelve or so years.

There are about 2000 people here, including some 16 universities. (Is that a small number? I expected it to be higher.)

2/3 of Bentley revenues are coming from subscriptions. The latest company annual report with details is online.

The new product is Projectwise Navigator, which replaces Bentley Navigator. It’s a client to ProjectWise for searching server content, redlining and the like. There’s a full blown version (customizeable and programmable) and a freebie version.

The 2008 release is code-named Athens and will feature enhancements related to conceptual design, dynamic views, and geo-coordination. The latter of course is of interest to us - in short, it’s on-the-fly “dealing” with coordinate reference systems in core MicroStation, ProjectWise and solutions from the other verticals. Styli Comateros intruduced the idea in his unique style and emphasized that it’d be invisible, or what ESRI would call “it just works.” This is a great thing - and I challenge other CAD companies (you know who you are) to put such fuctionality in its CORE platform. There’s also be GPS support - thought it’s not clear what that means just now - I’m sure I’ll hear more tomorrow at the geospatial keynote.

Keith Bentley (who is always worth listening to to get the latest “techie” take on programming hardware, etc.) was firm in his support for 64 bit hardware (don’t bother with 32). He hinted at   future distributed DGNs where the same idea of using mulitple cores to speed up processing will be applied to large DGNs. This comes as DGNs now routinely top out at 1 GB.

The other interesting geospatial tidbits, to my suprise, came from Buddy Cleveland’s discussion of the new Applied Research Group. He noted some licensed technology from I think it was Anoto (corrected) for electronic pen and paper. This is a bit different from solutions I’ve seen before. When you go to print docs out of Microstation you choose an option to make the print electronic. It comes out on paper with extra “dots” that make it appear a bit gray, but otherwise, ok. Now, the cool part, you take a special pen and do your edits/markup/comments on the printout. Then you dock the pen and all the stuff you wrote ends up in ProjectWise as redlining all on the right DGN. I’ll check into this on the floor since I for one would love it simply for editing text - and I suspect mapping folks would like it, too.

The other work involves using ProjectWise to task remote sensors - like video cameras. That made me wonder if Bentley’s work with OGC on OWS-4 and sensor Web is kicking in? No mention of the “how” this was done. The idea is to include real-time assets in ProjectWise’s content management functionality. This is another step I guess toward more facilities management and maybe homeland security markets.

[Disclosure: Bentley covered travel, hotel and meals.]

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/30 at 01:57 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

On the Media is an NPR show “on the media.” This week it found maps - particularly Global Incident Map and the new Darfur Maps in Google Earth. There are interviews with Morgan Clements and John Hanke. I’m not sure if the stories seemed old or somehow not as important as it should.

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/30 at 09:14 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, April 27, 2007

Reader Randy sent a tip noting that Stewart, the company that sold off GlobeXplorer in January released some financials including this tidbit about income related to the sale.

Includes a $3.2 million gain ($2.1 million after taxes, or $0.11
      per diluted share) from the sale of two subsidiaries, GlobeXplorer(R)
      and AirPhotoUSA(R), in the first quarter of 2007. Also includes a
      charge to earnings of $5.1 million ($3.3 million after taxes, or
      $0.18 per diluted share) for title loss provisions relating to
      four large title losses.


by Adena Schutzberg on 04/27 at 09:54 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Exactly 21 years after the disaster in 1986 (I was graduating college…) IBS, an IT firm in Russia announced the completion of a GIS project called “The Integrated Shelter Database” (ISDB) for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.” The system integrates various data from the plant and uses technology from Oralce, Microsoft and ESRI.

Apart from helping to operate the Shelter more efficiently and to monitor its state, the system enables coordinated actions of the subdivisions responsible for nuclear, radiation, general industrial and fire safety at the Chernobyl NPP. Deployment of ISDB made it possible to enhance safety for the Chernobyl NPP staff, and also for the population and the environment.

- press release

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/27 at 07:43 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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